Healthy Solutions Spice Blends

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends is a spice company dedicated to providing families with an affordable, and more importantly, healthy alternative in creating flavorful gourmet-tasting meals in minutes. They are perfect for people who love to cook homemade meals with a no salt and no sugar option to add flavor to their favorite foods.

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends

Healthy Solutions’ spice blends contain no fillers or preservatives, no MSG, are low in carbohydrates and most of the blends have no salt or sugar. The variety of spice blends flavors make for easy preparation when cooking with beef, poultry, pork and seafood. Each blend comes in a zip top packet so it is fresh and easy for storage and reuse.

I was offered the opportunity to compete in Healthy Solutions’ first annual spice blends blogger recipe challenge. Each participant received one packet of Healthy Solutions Spice Blends of their choice to cook with for free. Each participant must develop an original recipe, using the spice packet. Recipes will be judged based on taste, visual appeal, creativity and crowd appeal.

I chose the lemon pepper scallops spice packet – a savory pepper with refreshing zest of lemon citrus blend. With my spice packet, I developed a recipe for roasted cauliflower. It was so delicious that even my husband, who normally doesn’t eat this vegetable, ate half of the bowl! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

Lemon Pepper and Garlic Roasted Cauliflower

1 tbsp Healthy Solutions lemon pepper scallops spice blend

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp lemon juice and zest (1 lemon)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

1 head of cauliflower, washed and cut into florets

Parmesan cheese

Whisk together the first seven ingredients. It will look like a wet marinade.

Whisk together - it will look like a wet marinade.

Whisk together – it will look like a wet marinade.

Place the cut cauliflower florets in a quart-sized zip lock bag. Add in the wet marinade. Close the bag and massage the marinade onto the cauliflower.

Massage the marinade onto the cauliflower.

Massage the marinade onto the cauliflower.

Prepare a 13×9” baking dish with non-stick spray. Place the marinated cauliflower into the pan and roast in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes at 425 degrees. Turn the cauliflower once, half way through the cooking time.

Place the marinated cauliflower into the pan and roast in the oven.

Place the marinated cauliflower into the pan and roast in the oven.

The cauliflower is cooked when you can insert a fork easily into the florets. Remove it from the oven and sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese.

The cauliflower is cooked when you can insert a fork easily into the florets.

The cauliflower is cooked when you can insert a fork easily into the florets.

Serve it hot. I paired it with grilled chicken and steamed green beans. Makes 4 servings.

I paired the roasted cauliflower with grilled chicken and steamed green beans.

I paired the roasted cauliflower with grilled chicken and steamed green beans.

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends can be found near the seafood and meat counters in supermarkets and specialty stores throughout the US. Here in Connecticut you can find it at Highland Park Markets, Whole Foods and Shop Rite. They retail for $3.29 a packet – with one packet enough for a few meals.

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends can be found near the seafood and meat counters in supermarkets.

Healthy Solutions Spice Blends can be found near the seafood and meat counters in supermarkets.

Have you ever cooked with Healthy Solutions Spice Blends?

What’s your favorite recipe using lemon and pepper?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Healthy Solutions Spice Blend, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Beanfields Chips

Beanfields Chips

According to the “Snacking in America” NDP Group report, more than half of Americans are snacking 2-3 times per day. This presents the food industry with an ideal opportunity to develop new and different products in the healthy, easy to consume snack market resulting in an explosion of the healthy snack market. Consumers are seeking more and more all-natural, whole grains, gluten-free and overall healthier snack options. Satisfying that need has made “alternative chips” mainstream fare in the snack food world.

Beanfields is one of the newer players in the alternative chip market. These chips are made from beans and rice. They are farmed and made in the USA and contain no preservatives, no artificial colors or flavors, no trans fats and no cholesterol.

Beanfields is one of the newer players in the alternative chip market.

Beanfields is one of the newer players in the alternative chip market.

Beanfields makes its chips without eight of the most common food allergens. These chips have twice as much protein and fiber as most tortilla, corn and potato chips and are about 30% less fat. They are all natural and non-GMO verified.

Beanfield chips have twice as much protein and fiber as most tortilla, corn and potato chips and are about 30% less fat.

Beanfield chips have twice as much protein and fiber as most tortilla, corn and potato chips and are about 30% less fat.

Beanfields chips come in seven different flavors: unsalted, sea salt, pico de gallo, salt n’ pepper, nacho, ranch and barbecue. They come in snack-sized and 6 oz bags. They look similar to a Dorito-chip, with a lighter taste. I received an ample sized sampling of Beanfields chips – enough to have many try them in addition to myself. Whether it was friends, family, co-workers or college kids, unanimously everyone loved them. Personally, I liked the barbecue and pico de gallo flavors best.

Beanfields chips look similar to a Dorito-chip, with a lighter taste!

Beanfields chips look similar to a Dorito-chip, with a lighter taste!

Right now, Beanfields chips are offered mostly in specialty and health food retail stores. You can purchase them online through their website. Full-sized bags suggested retail price is $2.99 – $3.99. Snack-sized bags are $1.19 – $1.49, which is priced in line with similar products. Consumers should look for the Beanfields snack chips to start hitting retail grocery stores shelves in May 2015. I look forward to finding them at my local grocery store soon!

Consumers should look for the Beanfields snack chips to start hitting retail grocery stores shelves in May 2015!

Consumers should look for the Beanfields snack chips to start hitting retail grocery stores shelves in May 2015!

 

Have you ever tried Beanfields chips?

What’s your favorite healthy snack option?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Beanfields chips, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

SavorCT Preview Party

SavorCT Preview Party

In April 2015, a new event will be debuting in Hartford, CT called Savor. Presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino, Savor will be an extraordinary weekend of food, wine, beer and spirits tastings, live cooking demonstrations, a lavish charity gala and more.

Savor will be an extraordinary weekend of food, wine, beer and spirits tastings, live cooking demonstrations, a lavish charity gala and more.

Savor will be an extraordinary weekend of food, wine, beer and spirits tastings, live cooking demonstrations, a lavish charity gala and more.

To be held April 10-11, 2015 at the Connecticut Convention Center, Robert Irvine, star of Restaurant Impossible on Food Network, will host Savor. Savor will spotlight some of the world’s top culinary talent including Ming Tsai, Mary Ann Esposito, and Marc Summers to name a few. A portion of Savor’s proceeds will be donated to a deserving charity.

Robert Irvine, star of Restaurant Impossible on Food Network, will host the Savor event.

Robert Irvine, star of Restaurant Impossible on Food Network, will host the Savor event.

In preparation for the “big event,” an exclusive chef reception was held recently to sample some of what’s to come at the Savor event. I was invited to the preview event and experienced an intimate tasting of sumptuous fare, delightfully paired with a selection of fine wines. The Connecticut Convention center’s chefs prepared tastings of some decadent dishes.

The Connecticut Convention center’s chefs prepared tastings of some decadent dishes.

The Connecticut Convention center’s chefs prepared tastings of some decadent dishes.

PSavor 7

Prosciutto wrapped figs

 

One of my favorites that I sampled was the roasted butternut squash and ricotta ravioli tossed with veal and sage ragu.

Roasted butternut squash and ricotta ravioli tossed with veal and sage ragu was one of my favorites!

Roasted butternut squash and ricotta ravioli tossed with veal and sage ragu was one of my favorites!

Chef Franck Iglesias from Foxwoods Resort Casino prepared an amazing array of sweet temptations as well.

Chef Franck Iglesias from Foxwoods Resort Casino

Chef Franck Iglesias from Foxwoods Resort Casino

Push-up pops layered mousse dessert

Push-up pops layered mousse dessert

Savor will be held on April 10-11, 2015 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Over the two days, the event will feature two sessions of a “Sip, Savor and Stroll” Grand Tasting, a Charity Gala and the Chandon Bubble Lounge. Tickets for Savor are currently on sale, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the newly created Robert Irvine Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that honors the men and women serving in the US Armed Forces. To purchase tickets visit SavorCT.com.

Tickets for Savor are currently on sale -- don't miss out!

Tickets for Savor are currently on sale — don’t miss out!

 

Have you ever been to the food and wine festival?

Who’s your favorite local chef?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to the SavorCT Preview Party by their marketing/PR team, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event. 

 

Blends by Orly, gluten-free flour blends

Blends by Orly, gluten-free flour blends

Blends by Orly is a relatively new line of five gluten-free flour blends. They are not cake or baking mixes. These flour blends are to be used as a one-to-one replacement for wheat flour in any recipe.

Blends by Orly is a relatively new line of five gluten-free flour blends.

Blends by Orly is a relatively new line of five gluten-free flour blends.

The five flour blends are a culmination of gluten-free experiments that Orly the Baker, a French pastry chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, tested during her years living in Paris, Sydney, New York, London and Tuscany.

Each blend corresponds to the culinary delights and region’s signature foods of that city. For example, the Tuscany is an ideal blend for pizza crust, while the Sydney is perfect for brownies, muffins, pies and more.

The Tuscany is an ideal blend for pizza crust.

The Tuscany is an ideal blend for pizza crust.

I was provided with a sample pouch of the Tuscany and the Sydney flour blends. I decided to test out the Sydney blend by making the crust for a tomato and turkey bacon quiche.

The Sydney is perfect for brownies, muffins, pies and more.

The Sydney is perfect for brownies, muffins, pies and more.

I followed the instructions provided on Orly’s website for making the crust dough. It was extremely easy as all the ingredients were placed into the food processor and within a few minutes formed a dough disk.

I followed the instructions provided on Orly’s website for making the quiche crust dough - it was very easy!

I followed the instructions provided on Orly’s website for making the quiche crust dough – it was very easy!

After allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, I rolled it out into a 9-inch circle to fit into my quiche pan.

I rolled it out into a 9-inch circle to fit into my quiche pan.

I rolled it out into a 9-inch circle to fit into my quiche pan.

I will admit I had some difficulty transferring the dough to the pan, but not blaming the flour-blend or dough – more my non-expert baking skills. I recovered and managed to form it nicely into the pan.

I formed it nicely into the quiche pan.

I formed it nicely into the quiche pan.

After baking it as instructed, I removed it from the oven and readied the filling.

The quiche crust is partially-baked and ready for the filling.

The quiche crust is partially-baked and ready for the filling.

The quiche-filling recipe appears in my “recipes” section. While that recipe calls for ham and broccoli, you can easily substitute tomato and cooked turkey bacon, which I did.

I filled the quiche crust with a tomato and turkey-bacon mixture with some fresh scallions.

I filled the quiche crust with a tomato and turkey-bacon mixture with some fresh scallions.

I like to embellish my quiche with some of the key items in the filling so you know what’s inside.

I like to embellish my quiche with some of the key items in the filling so you know what’s inside.

I like to embellish my quiche with some of the key items in the filling so you know what’s inside.

After baking for 40-45 minutes, the quiche is done when you can insert a knife into the center and it comes out clean.

The tomato and turkey-bacon quiche is cooked and ready for dinner!

The tomato and turkey-bacon quiche is cooked and ready for dinner!

I paired it with sliced cucumbers, fresh fruit and wheat berry. It was delicious and tasted the same as an all-purpose white flour pie crust. I look forward to what creations I will make with the Tuscany blend.

I paired it with sliced cucumbers, fresh fruit and wheat berry - a nice healthy dinner!

I paired it with sliced cucumbers, fresh fruit and wheat berry – a nice healthy dinner!

Blends by Orly is packaged in 20-ounce re-sealable, zipper-top bags. It has a 12-month shelf life. Each bag has a recipe on the back, and there are many other recipes, baking tips and videos on the www.blendsbyorly.com website.

The flour blends are certified gluten-free and kosher, as well as dairy free and nut free. The product is sold in some retail supermarkets in select states and is available to purchase through the BlendsbyOrly.com website and through Amazon.

The flour blends are certified gluten-free and kosher, as well as dairy free and nut free.

The flour blends are certified gluten-free and kosher, as well as dairy free and nut free.

 

Have you ever baked with gluten-free flour?

What’s your favorite baking recipe?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Blends by Orly gluten-free flour blends, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience

“Food for Thought” Cookbook book club – America: Farm to Table Cookbook

“Food for Thought” Cookbook book club – America: Farm to Table Cookbook

For our first meeting of 2015 and commemorating the cookbook club’s 1-year anniversary, we focused our cooking on the cookbook America: Farm to Table by Mario Batali.

America: Farm to Table cookbook by Mario Batali

America: Farm to Table cookbook by Mario Batali

In his latest cookbook, the world-renown chef pays homage to the American farmer, whom he deems as the “rock stars” of the food world, through stories, photos and 100 tasty recipes from 14 farms across America. He celebrates their high quality products and their culture defined by hard work, integrity and pride.

In carrying out the evening’s theme, I obtained a few items that showcase Mario’s products and style at each person’s place setting. Yes, it was true Molto Mario right down to the orange croc keychains!

I obtained a few items that showcase Mario’s products and style at each person’s place setting, including the orange crocs!!

I obtained a few items that showcase Mario’s products and style at each person’s place setting, including the orange crocs!!

For an appetizer, I made zucchini fries with tomato aioli. The zucchini have a crispy baked exterior from the panko breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. With the tomato aioli for dipping, it made for a decadent yet healthy starter. I will be making these again very soon!

Zucchini fries with tomato aioli

Zucchini fries with tomato aioli

To start the meal, Terri made the Focaccia Panzanella.

Focaccia Panzanella

Focaccia Panzanella

Panzanella is a Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and basil, dressed in a red-wine vinegar and olive oil. I can’t wait to make this in the summer when the local tomatoes are in season!

For the main entrée, I made the Barbeque Chicken Thighs with lentils and green apple vinaigrette. I thought it was fitting to begin the New Year with a lentil dish since Italian-American families endure the tradition of welcoming in the New Year with various lentil dishes, symbolizing wealth. In fact, Mario Batali himself said, “It wouldn’t be New Year’s in Italy without lentils.”

Barbeque Chicken Thighs with lentils and green apple vinaigrette.

Barbeque Chicken Thighs with lentils and green apple vinaigrette.

This chicken dish combined a variety of flavors from the pesto-like overnight marinade, the rustic lentil base and the apple, Dijon vinaigrette topping. It was delicious.

Accompanying the chicken were two sides. Terri made the Risi Bisi, sweet pea risotto. While risotto is served year round in northern Italy, especially where there are more rice and cornfields than there are wheat fields, the flavor of risotto varies by season. So in the early spring when peas are being harvested, this version is the hero.

Risi Bisi, sweet pea risotto.

Risi Bisi, sweet pea risotto.

The risotto had a wonderful creamy texture and a salty bite from the diced prosciutto. I could have eaten the entire bowl!

For our second side, Susan made the prosciutto, goat cheese and green bean roll-ups. While this recipe is listed in the appetizer section of the cookbook, we chose to serve is as one of the sides and it held up well with the chicken and risotto.

Prosciutto, goat cheese and green bean roll-ups

Prosciutto, goat cheese and green bean roll-ups

I had seen similar prosciutto roll-ups that are typically made with roasted asparagus, but this version adds a twist to the traditional by kicking it up with the goat cheese and the roasted thin green beans. I think this would be perfect for the upcoming spring holidays!

If we weren’t full enough, Sharon made a beautiful strawberry-mascarpone olive oil cake. I’ve had olive oil cake before and was surprised at how flavorful it was.

Wtrawberry-mascarpone olive oil cake

Strawberry-mascarpone olive oil cake

The olive oil cake is a courser cake than you may be familiar with, but the blend of the mascarpone filling, whipped cream frosting and the berries makes for an amazing combination.

The blend of the mascarpone filling, whipped cream frosting and the berries makes for an amazing combination with the olive oil cake!

The blend of the mascarpone filling, whipped cream frosting and the berries makes for an amazing combination with the olive oil cake!

For our “take home treat,” Susan made almond and honey brittle.

Almond and honey brittle

Almond and honey brittle

The candy was crunchy and highly addictive!

In total, seven dishes were made for the America: Farm to Table cookbook.

Seven dishes were made for the America: Farm to Table cookbook

Seven dishes were made for the America: Farm to Table cookbook

The dinner was a beautifully balanced meal, delicious with every bite – or as we say in Italian, “Molto Bene” meaning very good!

The dinner was Molto Bene!

The dinner was Molto Bene!

We had another delicious meal and enjoyed everyone’s company, especially after being cooped up from the snowy winter!

Our next gathering will be in April. We chose the “Pollan Family Table” cookbook to build our next meal.

We chose the “Pollan Family Table” cookbook for our next meeting.

We chose the “Pollan Family Table” cookbook for our next meeting.

 

Have you ever made any of Mario Batali’s recipes? If so, which is your favorite?

Which of these recipes do you think you’ll be making soon?

 

Disclaimer:  While the cookbook book club was provided with copies of the America: Farm to Table cookbook, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience. 

Zego Bar Snacks

Zego Bar Snacks

Nowadays store shelves are filled with a wide variety of cereal, energy, nutrition and snack bars. What once was a niche product used largely by athletes post workouts and by dieters as a meal supplement has gained popularity among consumers in general. In order to capture some of the market share and shelf space, bar makers must differentiate their product from the next and ensure consumers understand what sets their bar apart from others.

Zego bar snacks are one of the newer players in the nutrition and snack bars market. They are the only nutrition bars designed to be nourishing and not hurt your stomach, trigger common allergies or spike your blood sugars.

Zego bar snacks are one of the newer players in the nutrition and snack bars market.

Zego bar snacks are one of the newer players in the nutrition and snack bars market.

Zego makes its sunflower seed-based bars without eight major food allergens, including gluten, peanuts, tree nuts (except coconut), soy, dairy, eggs or GMOs. They are also low glycemic, vegan, kosher and paleo-friendly. Zego also uses QR codes on its bar wrappers and boxes that show measurements of specific allergens from the bar’s batch, allowing sensitive consumers to make safe choices.

Zego also uses QR codes on its bar wrappers and boxes that show measurements of specific allergens from the bar’s batch, allowing sensitive consumers to make safe choices.

Zego also uses QR codes on its bar wrappers and boxes that show measurements of specific allergens from the bar’s batch, allowing sensitive consumers to make safe choices.

Zego bars are available in two flavors: Sunflower and chocolate. They have a thick, rich, chewy consistency. You can taste the sunflower in both flavors. The taste of Zego bars received mixed reaction from those who tried the bars I received, including myself. I preferred the sunflower flavor.

Zego bars are available in two flavors:  Sunflower and chocolate.

Zego bars are available in two flavors: Sunflower and chocolate.

Right now, Zego bars are offered mostly in retail stores in the west. You can purchase them online through their website. They retail for $5.75 for a 2-bar sampler package, which is priced in line with similar products.

Zego bars are offered mostly in retail stores in the west.  You can purchase them online through their website.

Zego bars are offered mostly in retail stores in the west. You can purchase them online through their website.

 

Have you ever tried Zego bar snacks?

What’s your favorite nutrition/ snack bar?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Zego bars, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Mohegan Sun WineFest 2015

Mohegan Sun WineFest 2015

Each January, Mohegan Sun Casino hosts the state’s largest wine and food event. Now in its 12th year, the three-day event features beer, wine, specialty spirits and delectable food dishes — perfect to imbibe and indulge!

Mohegan Sun Casino hosts the state’s largest wine and food event.

Mohegan Sun Casino hosts the state’s largest wine and food event.

At the grand tasting sessions, wine and beer enthusiasts can enjoy tasting over 1,000 brands from all around the world and sampling special sponsor spirits.

 

Wine and beer enthusiasts can enjoy tasting over 1,000 brands from all around the world!

Wine and beer enthusiasts can enjoy tasting over 1,000 brands from all around the world!

Mohegan IMG_1309

You can find your usual favorites and experience new vineyards.

Mohegan 3

You can find your usual favorites and experience new vineyards.

You can find your usual favorites and experience new vineyards.

Also, you can preview of some of the hottest trends quenching the world’s boozy thirst. Molecular mixology uses the equipment and techniques of molecular gastronomy. These methods allow the making of greater intensities and varieties of flavor, flavor combinations and different ways of presenting drinks, for example using gels, powders, foams, atomized sprays as well as affecting the appearance of the cocktail. Imagine having your cocktail in the form of a caviar pop-able sphere!

Molecular mixology

Molecular mixology

You’ll even find cheese, olive oil and chocolate vendors demonstrating how their products best pair with various alcohols.

Also sample cheese, olive oil and chocolate to see which goes best with various wines.

Also sample cheese, olive oil and chocolate to see which goes best with various wines.

The grand tasting also offered the purchase of tastings of fare from participating restaurants. Food exhibitors included Agave Grill, Feng Asian Bistro, First & Last Tavern, Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, Matunuck Oyster Farm, NoRA Cupcake Company and a few others.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

NoRA Cupcake Company

NoRA Cupcake Company

If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll enjoy that at Saturday and Sunday’s grand tastings there were also celebrity chef demonstrations throughout the day.

At the grand tastings there were also celebrity chef demonstrations throughout the day.

At the grand tastings there were also celebrity chef demonstrations throughout the day.

Mark Dixon, WFSB meteorologist, was one of the emcees.

Mark Dixon, WFSB meteorologist, was one of the emcees.

Mark Dixon, WFSB meteorologist, was one of the emcees.

On Sunday, the chef demos included Betty Fraser & Manouschka Guerrier, Georges Mokbel, William Kovel and Sandy Squillante. I learned a few interesting cooking tips and techniques.

Chef Georges Mokbel

Chef Georges Mokbel

Chef William Kovel

Chef William Kovel

Some of the celebrity chefs were also available to sign their cookbooks. I obtained Georges Mokbel’s “Everyday to Gourmet” cookbook and had it signed.

Me & Chef Georges Mokbel

Me & Chef Georges Mokbel

Like the name, this cookbook not only shows you how to create flavorful everyday dishes, but it also spins these same dishes into a gourmet level using simple techniques, adapted to the home cook.

"Everyday to Gourmet" Cookbook by Chef Georges Mokbel

“Everyday to Gourmet” Cookbook by Chef Georges Mokbel

We’ve made a few recipes from the cookbook and they are delicious! This is the blueberry French toast, everyday version, which is becoming a staple for Sunday morning breakfasts at my house. The kids say, “It’s the bomb!”

From a day filled with tastings, demos and samplings, you may be asking which beverages were some of my new favorites? I’ll be on the lookout for Fishers Island Lemonade this summer and Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines to enhance a celebration.

Two of my faves -- Fishers Island Lemonade & Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine

Two of my faves — Fishers Island Lemonade & Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine

Christine and I truly enjoyed the Mohegan Sun WineFest and look forward to returning next year.

Christine and I will definitely be back next year!

Christine and I will definitely be back next year!

Now off to the casino for some fun with a little “scratch” cash!

Off to the casino!!

Off to the casino!!

 

Have you ever been to the Mohegan Sun WineFest?

What’s your favorite wine – red or white and brand?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with media tickets to the Mohegan Sun WineFest by their marketing/PR team, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.